Educated: A Memoir

By Tara Westover

“I would remain a child, in perpetuity, always, or I would lose him,” writes Tara Westover of her domineering and dangerous father. That line accentuates the overarching angst Tara Westover endures and surmounts in her memoir, Educated

How to describe Tara's story: Riveting, captivating, compelling . . . in some places haunting. I want to describe her life as a multi-layered cake, but I can't. There are plenty of layers, just not enough sweetness in this journey; but there are layers:

Tara’s story — Growing up with survivalist parents in Idaho; she never attended school until she turned seventeen, and yet earned a PhD from Cambridge.

Tara’s struggle — Throughout the book she combats the emotional abuse from father, brother, and even her mother at times. 

Tara’s emancipation — She breaks free from her bonds of mental slavery (to borrow the same lyric from Bob Marley that she does) to her father’s overpowering will and voice in her life. As she grapples with conflicting ideologies, she gains new understanding as to who SHE is. 

Tara Westover is the exemplar for one of my many favorite lines from Educated, "We are all more complicated than the roles we are assigned in stories."

Tara takes us on her complicated journey of self-discovery. We come away more whole. She writes, "You could call this selfhood many things. Transformation. Metamorphosis. Falsity. Betrayal. I call it an education.

That’s what I would call it too. 

Five Reasons To Read Educated:

1. Educated is a compelling story wonderfully told. Tara Westover’s prose is a gentle knockout punch. Her writing soothes the ear even as it hammers away at the soul. 
2. Educated is keen observation on the human condition: “People are more than we think they are.” This truth is on display throughout the book.
3. Educated puts a human tint on phrases we hear, but may not understand: bi-polar, family dysfunction, internal angst. 
4. Educated is an unintentional – albeit sad – lesson on parenting. Wise people learn from the mistakes of others. This is a father’s “must read.” 
5. Educated highlights the power of a well-timed encouraging word.